In 1986, the Superfund law was amended to include, among other things, provisions to help increase public knowledge and access to information on the presence of hazardous chemicals in their communities and on releases of these chemicals into the environment. These provisions, which were added to the Superfund law as Title III, are commonly referred to as the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).
Under the Community Right-to-Know aspects of EPCRA, owners and operators of certain facilities are required to provide detailed information on the chemicals present at their facilities to several state and local organizations. These organizations iinclude the State Emergency Response Commission (SERC), the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) and the local fire department. In addition, these facilities are required to report to EPA every year any routine toxic chemical emissions from their facilities into the environment. EPA maintains the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) Program based on this information.
As part of the Community Right-to-Know provisions of EPCRA, the public has the right to access any of this information. Public access to detailed information on chemicals present in their communities is available during normal working hours from the LEPC or the SERC. In order to inform the public of the availability and location of this information, the LEPC publishes a notice annually in local newspapers. In addition, EPA releases a printed report each year summarizing the information that was submitted for the annual Toxic Release Inventory, which is available online.
These requirements are designed to help citizens gain a better understanding of the hazards that are present in their communities and to improve their locality's response capabilities through better coordination and planning. EPA's Office of Pollution Prevention & Toxics (OPPT) manages these and other Community Right-to-Know aspects of the Superfund law.